Tuesday afternoon, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released nationwide enrollment data for the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) health insurance exchanges through the first five months of the program. As of March 1st, 4.2 million individuals enrolled in health insurance coverage through the state and federally run exchanges. The following is the American Action Forum’s monthly analysis of the enrollment data released by HHS, evaluating the numbers in the context of possible enrollment trends and the administration’s goal of enrolling 7 million individuals by the end of March 2014.
CMS delivered big news yesterday with their announcement to abandon a controversial Medicare Part D rulemaking. In a letter to Congress CMS' Tavenner said, “Given the complexities of these issues and stakeholder input, we do not plan to finalize these proposals at this time.” Douglas Holtz-Eakin testified last month on the proposal that would cut providers and how it would “fundamentally damage the program and threaten its success.” CMS did the right thing by soliciting advice from experts and stakeholders and backing off of this rule. It's possible it could return in the future, however.
American Action Forum Health Care Policy Director Christopher Holt Discusses Proposed Changes to Part D on BioCentury TV (March 9, 2014).
The president’s record on medical innovation incentives leads much to be desired. The medical device tax, IPAB, and the MLR are examples of policies that straight jacket innovation.
Now, his budget proposes to change the laws for “biosimilars,” generic versions of biologics, to reduce the number of years of exclusive market rights from 12 to 7 years. In addition, it would alter the Medicare rules to reduce the reimbursements for biosimilars. The proposals would save over $10 billion over the next decade.
I appreciate the opportunity to comment on the Department of State’s pending determination of whether construction of the Keystone XL pipeline (KXL) is in the national interest of the United States. This comment relies on information provided in the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement prepared by the Department (“Final SEIS” or “Report”), and finds that construction of the pipeline is unequivocally in our best interest to support energy security, and minimize the environmental and safety risk of the burgeoning North American energy trade.
Even in the face of Monday’s snow day, regulators found time to publish more than $4.5 billion in total costs and nearly 3 million paperwork burden hours. Total published rulemaking costs in 2014 are now well past $10 billion.
Whatever you believed last month, continue to believe it. The February jobs report did not have much news. The core story in the February report is likely the impact of bad weather on hours worked, no surprise to all of us with mental scars from days inside and snow drifts outside. Jobs were up surprisingly strongly — 175,000 — and average hourly earnings rose a sharp 4.5 percent (annual rate). Weekly earnings were flat because hours were down by 0.2 percent. Workers are making more per hour, but working less.
All conversations in Washington today will be driven by the February jobs numbers. We will wait to see if the cold freezes growth when the numbers are released later this morning. January’s numbers saw 113,000 jobs added and a slight change in unemployment. Douglas Holtz-Eakin has his preview below. Here is a quick recap of key economic indicators since last month’s report:
As the name suggests, the President’s Budget is in fact a wholesale concoction of the executive branch. In the formulation of their Budgets, administrations of every stripe are free to construct a government, and more relevantly, an economy largely of their choosing.